On Monday 10 December, around 200 Old Harrovians (OHs) gathered in St Stephen Walbrook Church in the City of London for an evening of Christmas carols and readings, organised by our alumni association, the Harrow Association.
Among readings by OHs and staff from the School and Harrow Association, the programme included Ding Dong Merrily on High, the much-loved carol written by OH George Ratcliffe Woodward (Druries 1863²).
Woodward was an Anglican priest who wrote mostly religious verse, both original and translated from ancient authors. The best-known of these were written to fit traditional melodies, mainly of the Renaissance. After leaving Harrow in 1867, he won a Sayer Scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He later served as Assistant Curate at St Barnabas, Pimlico, before moving to East Anglia.
Woodward's publications include Carols for Christmas-Tide, Series II; Carols for Easter and Ascension-tide; Hymns and Carols for Christmas-tide; Legends of the Saints; The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus; Poemata; the Cowley Carol Book; Songs of Syon; Piae Cantiones; The Acathist Hymn of the Holy Orthodox Church in the Original Greek Text and done into English Verse; An Italian Carol Book; Hymns of the Greek Church and A Cambridge Carol Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter and Other Seasons. This latter work included his original composition, Ding Dong Merrily on High.
Woodward died in Highgate in 1934 and was interred in Norfolk.
References: "Woodward, George Ratcliffe (WDWT867GR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.